>Lustration: From Prague to Baghdad… to Sussex
The presentation itself was a substantive one with two important original aspects: 1) the concept of a ‘lustration system’ with a certain logic and ideal typical form as opposed to a simple empirical run through and comparison of legal and administrative provisions in different countries (one might, he added, in the Q&A, use some more generalizable term, although he didn’t suggest one – ‘transitional justice regime?, ‘transitional justice system’?); and 2) real empirical findings testing the claimed impacts and benefits of lustration, principally increased regime legitimacy (more trust in democratic political institutions) and greater societal trust (benefits well known). Using a clever survey technique based on hypothetical vignettes in the three countries, which also controlled for anti-communism, he found that Czech-style ‘exclusionary models’ and Polish-style ‘inclusion’ models based upon truth telling (confession) about the past had positive effects on both political and social trust. It wasn’t (yet) possible to establish how great a contribution lustration systems might make to the general development of trust and legitimacy in transition societies (possibly rather limited in CEE contexts, I suspected), and there were some question over whether the individually based experimental nature of the survey (individuals responding to hypothetical, if immediately understandable, scenarios) could be scaled up to the social level. On this evidence, however, lustration certainly didn’t do any harm.